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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Al Franken
on: March 14, 2017, 04:32:04 PM
"Documentary on the Al Franken recount, link gone blank. http://kstp.com/article/stories/S1222327.shtml?cat=5
I asked the television station for help on this."
At least 341 convicted felons voted in Minneapolis's Hennepin County, the state's largest, and another 52 voted illegally in St. Paul's Ramsey County, the state's second largest. Dan McGrath, head of Minnesota Majority, says that only conclusive matches were included in the group's totals. The number of felons voting in those two counties alone exceeds Mr. Franken's victory margin."
With Franken achieving national prominence, it is good to have these URLs on tap.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Lessons of Omar Abdel Rahman
on: March 14, 2017, 02:52:39 PM
The Lessons of Omar Abdel Rahman
by A.J. Caschetta
March 9, 2017http://www.meforum.org/6585/the-lessons-of-omar-abdel-rahman
More than 2,000 people attended the funeral of Omar Abdel Rahman after the return of his body to Egypt last month.
One of America's oldest Islamist enemies, Omar Abdel Rahman, popularly known as the "Blind Sheikh," died February 18 in a U.S. federal prison after nearly a quarter century behind bars. Though he did incalculable damage to our security during his illustrious career, he also taught us three valuable lessons, even if we're reluctant to fully apply them.
First, Abdel Rahman showed us how devastating an impact the arrival of just one unvetted Islamic militant can have.
Abdel Rahman was an esteemed scholar of Islamic jurisprudence before becoming spiritual leader of Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, a violent offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, during the 1970s. In 1981 he was jailed for issuing a fatwa authorizing the murder of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Released three years later, Abdel Rahman played a major role recruiting mujahideen networks fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and has often been credited by Osama bin Laden with inspiring al-Qaeda.
Abdel Rahman showed us how devastating the arrival of just one unvetted Islamic militant can be. Despite being on a U.S. terrorism watch list, Abdel Rahman entered the United States in 1990 after obtaining a tourist visa from the U.S. embassy in Sudan. The State Department soon realized the mistake and tried to revoke the visa, but Abdel Rahman successfully fought deportation.
Why a known terrorist and sworn enemy of the United States was granted legal resident status is unclear. Some attribute this to a "tragicomedy of errors by American immigration authorities," while others maintain the CIA helped secure his residency status because it thought it could keep an eye on him and obtain useful information.
The second lesson Rahman can teach us is about surveillance. After being insufficiently vetted, Abdel Rahman began preaching at three mosques in New York and New Jersey, attracting a growing body of recruits and directing them to plot a spree of terror attacks on New York City landmarks ranging from the United Nations to the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.
Abdel Rahman was insufficiently surveilled both before his arrest and after imprisonment.
These activities eventually brought Rahman into the FBI's crosshairs (owing to the courageous informant Emad Salem), but not in time to detect and stop the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that left six dead. In October 1995, a federal jury convicted Abdel-Rahman of numerous conspiracy counts pertaining to World Trade Center attack and these foiled plots and sentenced him to life in prison.
Having been insufficiently surveilled before his arrest, Abdel Rahman was then insufficiently surveilled after imprisonment. Though the terror mastermind was subject to a Special Administration Measure (SAM) that restricted his contact with the outside world to legal counsel, the FBI did not begin eavesdropping on Abdel Rahman's conversations with his radical leftist lawyer Lynne Stewart (MARC: Wouldn't doing this be quite illegal?) and their handpicked translator until 2000, after it came to suspect (correctly) that he was in communication with IG leaders abroad.
Lynne Stewart, who passed away March 7, left us her own lesson: Never underestimate the willingness of radical leftists to become knowing dupes of religious reactionaries (provided they're Muslim). Through messages passed by Stewart (later convicted for her crimes) to and from IG liaisons, Rahman transmitted directives to and received reports from terror operatives abroad. He reportedly gave the order for a 1997 attack in Luxor, Egypt, that killed 62 people, mostly foreign tourists.
The third lesson that Abdel Rahman can teach us is that the criminal justice system is the wrong instrument for handling international terrorist cases, especially those with high-profile defendants.
Escaping the death penalty for a lifetime in prison, Abdel Rahman became a powerful symbol and inspiration to Islamists everywhere. Bin Laden issued numerous calls for Muslims to avenge their "sheikh."
The criminal justice system is the wrong instrument for handling international terrorist cases.
In a 1998 interview from the bowels of his cavern hideaway in Afghanistan, bin Laden held the USA "responsible for its attack on that symbol of Islam, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman."
Bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, urged Egyptians to kidnap Americans in order to trade for him.
While the debate over Donald Trump's pledge to "keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of the United States" rages on, the press, Congress and the American people would do well to remember the life and lessons of Omar Abdel Rahman.
A.J. Caschetta is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum and a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Rambling Rumination: Let's Roll!
on: March 14, 2017, 12:57:08 AM
Rambling Rumination: “Let’s Roll!”
by Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny
We all know of the “well-regulated militia” of our Second Amendment. It is very much worth noting that in the usage of when the Bill of Rights was written, “regulated” did NOT mean “regulations”. It meant “smoothly running”. Thus, an accurate watch could be said to be “well regulated”.
At the time of the writing of the Second Amendment, fresh from the memories of the standing army of the British, our Founding Fathers did not envision a standing army. That is why we have the Third Amendment (no quartering of troops in our homes) and we have a Second Amendment. The security of our country against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, resides with “We the people”.
In times of danger, those subject to being called up were expected to show up WITH THEIR GUNS to fight in defense of our country. In my clear opinion, this means we were expected to have guns suitable for a foot soldier. In those days it was a musket. Today this includes the technology of our time: semi-automatic rifles which are often misnamed by those who would disarm us and those who have been deceived by them as “assault rifles”. To say otherwise would be as logical as excluding radio, TV, and the internet from the First Amendment.
(Though the appearance of each can be similar, the difference is this: A semi-auto such as a civilian may own, requires one pull of the trigger for each shot. An assault rifle of a soldier includes an automatic function whereby bullets come out as long as the trigger is held down.)
This makes perfect sense.
A militia that would have to have foot soldier arms distributed by the government before it would be ready to fight when the nation was under attack would not be “well-regulated”; it would run quite poorly; it would be a fustercluck.
Some argue that now that we have a standing army, we no longer need a militia, and that the Second Amendment is a atavistic echo of a time gone by.
Let us be perfectly clear. “Enemies both foreign and domestic” includes our government should it ever seek to slip the bonds of our Constitution and take our freedoms. Remember this well: the American Revolution ignited at the battles of Lexington and Concord when the British came to confiscate our guns.
It was thus then, and it is thus now.
Some argue that this is foolish. “Look at the military power of our Government!” they say. “Do you think you can fight that?”
The answer to this argument has two parts.
First, I challenge the assumption implicit in it that our military would turn upon us.
Second, thanks to our Second Amendment, we are no less well-armed than the Taliban or any of a number of other guerrilla movements which this same power has failed to defeat.
This is not to say that there are not to be any sort of laws or regulations.
Our State governments are “the laboratory of democracy” where all this is to be sorted out.
Open carry? Concealed carry? Minimum age? Training required? Criteria for extinguishing Second Amendment rights?
All these are things to be worked out by the States under their Tenth Amendment rights under what is known as “the police power”.
Of course when it comes to interstate travel or foreign threat, there is a proper constitutional role for the Federal government.
For example as I type these words there is vigorous debate over whether people on the “No Fly” list should be allowed to purchase guns.
At first glance, this looks obvious– “Of course not!”– but the problem is this and it is a profound one: The No-Fly List is a secret governmentally generated list with no Due Process concerning who is put on it and no Due Process for getting off it.
This is a formula for massive mischief!!!
In that flying is not a constitutionally protected right, the No Fly List passes muster as far as flying goes, but in sharp contrast our Second Amendment rights (and implicitly our Ninth Amendment right to self-defense) are fundamental constitutional rights and by definition losing these rights requires proper “Due Process” by Constitutional standards.
This is not a line to be crossed in the passions of the moment– passions often fomented by those who seek to disarm us!!!
As can be readily imagined by anyone who has dealt with governmental bureaucracies (in my case it was as a lawyer in Washington DC), many of those on the list are put on by mistake. In my readings of those who have done serious work looking into this, I am consistently running into the number of 35% of those on the list not belonging there. This means literally hundreds of thousands of innocent people are on the list!!! — which if I have the number correct is the better part of one million names.
It may be due to a name similar to a suspect, or even a name spelled similarly to a suspect or some innocent behavior.
Senator Ted Kennedy was put on the list and so was Congressman John Lewis. Of course they were promptly removed but so too was standout reporter Steve Hayes because he bought a one-way ticket to Turkey where he got on a cruise ship. Despite his public recognition as a reporter, he spent many Kafkaesque months trying to get off it to no avail until anchor Brett Baier spoke to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson ON THE AIR about his case.
Obviously none of us has the political muscle of a US Senator or Congressman or an anchor who can shame the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security!
The truth is simple and clear: The No Fly List has no Due Process for our fundamental Second Amendment rights and until it does (For quite some time Republican Senator Cornier has had a bill which has been rejected by the Democrats) the No Fly List is an insufficient basis for extinguishing the Second Amendment rights of nearly one million Americans
An additional point: Right now our executive branch is led by those who see the problem as “extremism”– be it Muslim, Tea Party, Christian or otherwise.
Indeed, as best as I can tell an unspoken reason for the determination to not identify the danger to our country as Islamic Fascism (or some other similar name) is to not “let go to waste” the opportunity to disarm as many as of possible political enemies of the the current administration , , , but perhaps I digress , , ,
At the end of the day at Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack one year after 911, I spontaneously spoke of 911 and how the only thing that worked on that day was not the government or the police. http://dogbrothers.com/saved-by-the-militia/
Two planes hit the World Trade Center. One missed the White House and hit the Pentagon. The last plane, Flight 93, presumably was headed for the Capitol building and it was “we the unorganized militia” on Flight 93 who answered Todd Beamer’s call to action “Let’s roll!” and took that plane down.
As you can see from the article accompanying my impromptu talk, Title 10, Section 313 speaks to the “unorganized militia”.
Here is my understanding– whether the various state governments do their part in maintaining the apparatus required to have a “well-regulated milita” or not, the militia continues in “unorganized” form.
THE FUNDAMENTAL CONSTITUTIONAL UNDERSTANDING THAT DEFENSE OF THE NATION IS IN OUR HANDS REMAINS. IT IS NOT EXTINGUISED BY THE FAILURE OF THE STATES OR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO DO THEIR PART.
Once again we see the wisdom of our Founding Fathers unchanged by time or technology. Indeed it is precisely due to technology that our enemy is now able to bypass our military and our police.
Ben Franklin warned us “Those who give up their liberty in search of safety deserve neither.”
Still many people call for what amounts to an end of privacy of our personal communication (Fourth Amendment, Ninth Amendment) even though “encryption” and the “dark web” increasingly make such surveillance superfluous.
No longer is there a need to plot, plan, and direct as was the case with the attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001. Now there is only the need to inspire the “radicalized” to “go operational” in lone wolf actions with guns or, in their absence, bombs.
We see this again and again, be it the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston, the jihadi hit team in San Bernardino, or now in Orlando.
So, what are we the people to do in such moments?
First and foremost is to “man up”. Be Odysseus in Cyclops’ cave. He did not pray for Cyclops to eat him last– he came up with a plan and acted! While Cyclops slept, he speared him in his one eye and came up with a clever plan to escape with the sheep and by so doing saved not only himself but his crew.
(If you don’t get this literary reference, it is from Homer’s “The Odyssey”. Read it– and demand a refund from whomever claimed to have educated you!)
If you and others are being held as hostages in a bathroom until it is your turn to die as we saw in Orlando, DO SOMETHING. Rip the seat off the toilet and have someone throw a garbage can as the killer comes in while the one with the toilet seat conks him over the head and everyone swarms him. If you are to die, DIE FIGHTING.
Fighting will be a lot easier and more likely to be effective if you are armed (guns and knives both have their place) and properly trained in their use.
Yesterday I received a call from a Green Beret in 5th Group Special Forces I had worked with some ten years ago. We chatted at length and shared with me something he had written about all this.
This man has been places and done things for us. It is my honor to do my part in spreading his word forward.
Minimizing Active Shooters in Public Spaces
Two of the most notorious public active shooter examples, the Ft. Hood and Pulse Night Club shootings, illustrate the case of a lone gunman taking down numerous victims in very public places. Both involved semi-automatic firearms which required reloading, the AR-15 as the primary weapon in the Pulse shooting and the M9 Beretta in the Ft. Hood case.
In both instances, the moment shots were realized for what they were, had swarms of people overwhelmed the gunmen, it is arguable that not more than one magazine would have been fired, in the case of the AR-15, 30 rounds of ammunition; in the M9 Beretta, 15 rounds.
This is an argument to consider for it is almost certain that future acts of this kind of public terror will occur.
It is worth putting the theory into practice, wherein, in controlled environments, in training, the theory of swarming such gunmen can, at least, be put to test. Not to do so, without any other counteractions against such shooters in place, is irresponsible.
Now, it is highly understandable that from an instinctual life preservation basis, especially one’s own, it might well be argued that against such intrinsic value, the need to flee against someone with a gun may generally be what naturally occurs; however, these are not natural situations. The alternative, now twice registered, needs to be evaluated, e.g. mass casualties from numerous reloads in the aforementioned cases, where numerous people were, indeed, available to swarm the shooter.
What such action takes is a presence of mind, pre-loaded, which this letter suggests, wherein, before one ever goes into a mall, bar, or other crowded venue, where they know guns are not allowed, the idea of swarming an active shooter become commonplace thinking, as much commonplace as, say, it would be for anyone hearing someone scream FIRE in a crowded theater would cause everyone to immediately leave without thinking.
It is, to say the least, the last thing someone would naturally do – to run to shots that are being fired; yet, the argument remains – massive casualties occur in these situations when magazines are reloaded. There is an interval space wherein a swarm of unarmed individuals can overwhelm someone’s attempts to reload a weapon.
I would hope that increased concealed carry for responsible gun owners along with better staffing of armed security guards at public venues might now, gain traction; however, much stands in the way of such practices.
In the interim, maybe just increasing national consciousness and remembrance of what Todd Beamer inspired when he yelled, “Let’s Roll” on United Airlines Flight 93 during the attacks of 9/11 might be enough to minimize the next threat.
Let’s hope and pray we don’t have to go there; but, at the same time, let’s not allow wishful thinking to rule the ground of our being.
We cannot always be armed, everywhere. Such is the case going to watch your favorite sport in many venues. If an active shooter situation were to happen in such a place isn’t it high time we begin to ask – is it worth letting another active shooter the opportunity to reload?
In closing, I offer that “Let’s Roll” be our American battle cry whenever the fickle flying finger of fate reaches out and touches us.
If you think this missive worthy, please pass it forward.
The Adventure continues!
Marc “Crafty Dog” Dennywww.dogbrothers.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WaPo: KKK sign in Georgia
on: March 13, 2017, 02:19:24 PM
In Georgia, reaction to KKK banner is a sign of the times
By Stephanie McCrummen March 12 at 6:15 PM
City officials take down a KKK sign from a vacant building downtown in Dahlonega, Ga., on Feb. 16. Residents said the banner left them both surprised and scared. (Matt Aiken/The Dahlonega Nugget)
DAHLONEGA, Ga. — The mayor was still home when his phone started ringing. The reverend was still down with the flu when he began getting one message after another. Valerie Fambrough had just dropped off her daughters at day care when she heard.
“Have you seen the sign in the square?” a parent asked her on a cold morning three weeks ago. “There’s a Ku Klux Klan sign in the town square.”
And, in fact, there was. Just past the old brick courthouse and across the street from candy stores and antique shops, a large rectangular banner was screwed tight into the cracked wood siding of a long-vacant building on East Main Street. “Historic Ku Klux Klan Meeting Hall,” it said.
It had a cartoonish drawing of a white-sheeted person raising a hand. In addition, there was a Confederate battle flag at one corner of the building and a red flag with a white cross and the letters KKK at the other. They were fluttering in the wind blowing across Dahlonega, and what happened next would become one more pocket of America dealing with a disturbing incident at a time when hate crimes have been on the rise and new brands of white nationalism have been making a comeback across the country.
In Upstate New York, the home of a Jewish man was spray-painted with swastikas. In Virginia, fliers were distributed in several neighborhoods with the words, “Make America WHITE again-and greatness will follow.” In Colorado, two typewritten notes that read “WERE GONNA BLOW UP ALL OF YOU REFUGEES,” were left at a community center serving mainly Muslim immigrants. Now whatever was happening in other parts of the country seemed to have arrived in Dahlonega.
The mayor got dressed and headed for the square. The reverend called the sheriff. Fambrough recalled how she hurried over to see for herself, saying “No, no, not here,” the whole way, and “Hell, no,” until she was there, alone, staring at the banner.
She was a white 37-year-old mother of two, a program specialist in the biology department at the University of North Georgia who called Dahlonega a “sweet, loving town” and had never protested anything in her life. Now she felt her anger rising. She remembered the flip-chart paper in her trunk left over from a presentation a month before and made two signs — “Not in my town,” she wrote, and “Love Lives Here” — then got out and stood in her sandals holding them.
She was freezing. The square was still quiet, with all the shops closed. She scanned the windows across the street to see if someone was watching. She planned which way she would run if something happened. Cars passed, and she scrutinized each face.
A woman shook her head and kept going.
A man gave her a thumbs-up.
A woman called out of her window, “Did you put that sign up?” and Fambrough said “No, no!” and then Bridget Kahn parked, got out, and now there were the two of them.
A woman in a red minivan stopped and yelled “Y’all are angry! You’re angry, angry people!” and drove off.
A black pickup truck parked across the street, and a muscular man got out, and a reporter from the local paper who’d just arrived told the women it was Chester Doles, a former leader in the Klan and a white-separatist group called the National Alliance who had gone to prison on federal weapons charges. He lived just outside town and was currently a personal trainer who also worked promoting “hate rock” concerts around the country. He pulled out a cellphone and began taking photographs. He said something to the women, but they couldn’t hear.
“What’s that, sir?” Kahn called out, and the women heard him say something about how “glorious” it was to see such a sign in the light of day, and then he drove off, even as more people were arriving — white-haired locals, college students and others who said they were appalled; a Native American man who brought a ladder and tried to rip the banner down; a white man who argued the KKK banner and flag should come down but not the Confederate battle flag; a young black man who stood there crying.
Here came the mayor and the sheriff trying to figure out what was going on.
Here came two pickup trucks circling the square, revving their engines. The woman in the red minivan returned, honking her horn and seeming to veer too close to the protesters.
A school bus passed, and now Fambrough was crying as the town dispatched a cherry picker to the scene, and workers began ratcheting out the first of 21 screws holding the banner in place.
Another truck arrived, this one belonging to a local roofing company and plastered with Confederate logos, and several workers climbed on the roof and began removing the flags.
And that was how the banner came down, and the flags came down, and all the rest began.
All over town that first day, people kept saying this was not the Dahlonega they knew.
“Our little pocket of loveliness” is how one resident described the former gold mining town an hour north of Atlanta, known for its redbrick square lined with antique shops and wine tasting rooms. It was the seat of Lumpkin County, which did not have the reputation for racial violence that many other north Georgia counties did, though no one disputed that there were probably Klan members scattered around. It was overwhelmingly white and Republican, though Dahlonega itself was home to a small, deeply rooted, black population, and had in recent years attracted a more liberal crowd who considered themselves part of the progressive South.
Now, though, all anyone could talk about was what happened in the town square.
Even before the last screw came out of the banner, photos of it were appearing all over social media with captions like “WTF, Dahlonega?” and people began speculating about who did it.
Maybe it was a college prank. Maybe it was an outsider. Maybe it really was the Klan, a relic coming back to life. In an area that voted heavily for Donald Trump, speculation began that the whole thing was the work of anti-Trump activists, and when she got home, Fambrough went online and saw that people were accusing her of putting up the banner, saying she was part of the “alt-left.”
By evening, though, people had found out who was really responsible: It was one of their own, an 84-year-old white woman named Roberta Green-Garrett, the owner of the building in question who lives in a brick mansion with four white columns on a hill overlooking the town.
Offering no explanation and declining to speak with reporters, she had told town officials that she had allowed the banner to go up and might try to put it up again. She had been seeking permission to build a hotel on the square, and people speculated that it was all an audacious ploy to embarrass the town into approving her plans.
“An isolated case of Mrs. Green,” is how the mayor, Gary McCullough, described it, saying that there was no evidence the building was ever used by the Klan and that he hoped people would move on.
For many people, though, it was too late for that. The point wasn’t who did it. The point was that it had happened, and whatever it had unleashed was taking on a life of its own.
As day two began, a local Unitarian church was organizing a “unity march” for later that afternoon.
Fambrough heard and began calling her friends. “It’s about showing people that they have nothing to be afraid of in our town!” she told them.
More calls were made, including one to the minister, John Webb, a former town council member who is black, who had heard by then who had done it, which didn’t make it less worrying to him. He said he had noticed more pickup trucks roaring around during the presidential campaign, Confederate battle flags flying — “Guys I know,” he said, “saying ‘the South will rise again’ and all that stuff” — and that regardless of why the banner went up, “It’s very possible it could boomerang into something bigger than it is.”
He was 72, a veteran of the civil rights struggle still sick from the flu, but he was going, and he called others to go, too, and as word spread about the coming demonstration, so did a parallel set of rumors.
The KKK was coming. The neo-Nazis were coming. Black Lives Matter was coming. Fambrough heard that a so-called antifascist group from Atlanta was coming and began feeling sick imagining windows being smashed and businesses being torched. The sheriff called for backup and readied a plan in case a riot or something worse was about to happen in Dahlonega.
In the late afternoon, people began rallying around the square, waving signs.
“Not OKKK America,” one said. “Dahlonega Loves Y’all,” read another, and “Really, Roberta?”
Protesters rally Feb. 17 in Dahlonega, Ga., after a KKK sign was displayed on a vacant building downtown. (Matt Aiken/The Dahlonega Nugget)
People honked horns in support. A local fiddler came. A member of the folk-rock duo Indigo Girls came and everybody sang “This Land Is Your Land.”
Soon, several pickup trucks arrived, revving their engines and circling the square, with Confederate battle flags and Make America Great Again flags flying. When a protester started yelling at one of them, Fambrough yelled at the protester, “Don’t make assumptions!”
By the third day, events began taking another turn.
“More s--- stirrers!” someone posted online about the protesters. “You all are the ones that are going to ruin that town and jobs will be lost!!! Good job, morons!!”
“All crybabies jump on board!” wrote someone else.
“Let it go,” a woman posted.
But people were not letting it go.
“It’s like a certain political climate has opened up,” said Paul Dunlap, a professor at the university, sitting at the end of the fifth day around a fire with friends at Shenanigans pub on the square. An openly gay man, he said he had never experienced any kind of bigotry in his two decades in Dahlonega.
“I think it’s a good idea not to be naive,” said Deb Rowe, the pub’s owner, and now they started talking about Chester Doles, who sometimes came in for a beer at the bar. Someone had noticed that on the building where the banner had been, inside a locked glass case near the door, there was a flier for Doles’s personal training services, showing him oiled up and smiling in full bodybuilder pose.
“Is this indicative of something bigger?” said Dunlap. “Like, do they think they have a voice?”
“I think Roberta’s using the national polarization against us all,” said Jeremy Sharp, a white student at the university who was organizing a boycott of her businesses, which included two buildings she rented out to antique dealers, several hundred units of student housing, and a Holiday Inn Express.
“A peaceable revolution,” Sharp said at a news conference on the sixth day as residents crowded into a small room at the university to hear.
“A few days ago, we had an obtuse sign put up,” he began. “When I walked out and saw that, it scared me. It scared me as a Catholic. It scared me as a person who has friends who look different than me. We are here because we are afraid.”
People clapped and cheered as Sharp began explaining a plan to withhold rent from Green-Garrett and barrage Holiday Inn’s corporate offices with phone calls, which would lead the hotel chain’s parent company, IHG, to issue a statement saying that they had “expressed our concerns” to Green-Garrett and that “This is not the type of activity that we want any of our brands associated with.” As Sharp kept talking, two Dahlonega council members arrived, explaining that they were only there to get “the public sentiment.”
“So, no comment?” a young woman yelled at them.
“The only comment I’ll make is that the KKK does not represent the values of this town,” one of the men said.
“Then why’d you vote for it? Why’d you vote for it?” the woman yelled, getting more upset, and even though there was never such a vote, some people began cheering her on.
“Let’s keep this civil! They did not vote for that sign!” said another young woman trying to quiet the room, but emotions were high.
A man said that the KKK had recently applied unsuccessfully to take part in the Adopt-A-Highway program in a neighboring county. A woman said she was worried about “all the undertones of hate being brought out of the woodwork.”
“I’m very concerned,” said Daniel Blackman, a former state Senate candidate who was the first black person ever to run for office from nearby Forsyth County, which has a long history of violence against blacks and was until the late 1980s known as a “whites only” county. “Whether it’s a stunt or whether Ms. Garrett really feels that way, the fact is there are children here that might be threatened or afraid and we’ve got to get ahead of it. The last thing you want to see is someone crazy enough to do something stupid.”
Soon, the meeting ended, and as everyone was heading out into the cold Dahlonega night, an older white man, trying to be sensitive, said to Blackman, “Be careful.”
The next morning, all of this was the topic of North Georgia talk radio, and the host was taking callers. A woman named Sharon was on the line.
“It’s not just fake news, it’s a fake agenda,” she began, and explained that the banner might have been part of an elaborate plot not only to create chaos in Dahlonega, but also to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump and ultimately, the nation.
She knew all of this, she said, because she had gone online and discovered a website for a group with locations across the country — including in Dahlonega — that was made up of “former congressional staffers working for the previous administration. They are supporting the impeachment. They support open borders. They are supporting Obamacare. They are promoting disruption at town halls — I call it bullying — and they have a potential for violence.
“I hope everyone is aware that this type of activity — I call it subversion, with a fake narrative — is taking root in the area,” she continued, and meanwhile, in Dahlonega, another new development was unfolding.
Over at town hall, an assistant to Green-Garrett was filing paperwork for a new sign permit.
“Size of sign: 4x6.”
“Material of sign: wood (painted).”
“Color of sign: Gold with Black Lettering.”
“How sign will be attached to wall: Screwed.”
It was an application to make the sign permanent. It would say, “Historic Ku Klux Klan Meeting Hall,” and that was how the seventh day ended.
And then, two days after that, the application was withdrawn.
Green-Garrett issued her first statement since unleashing all of this eight days before, saying that she had been trying to get a hotel built only to “meet opposition at every turn.” “I have no other motivation other than to bring businesses and tax revenue to the city,” her statement said. “I want to move forward and do something positive for the city of Dahlonega.”
She said nothing about the KKK banner, and when she was reached by phone at her winter home in Florida, she said “no comment” and hung up.
At her real estate office in a worn-out strip mall on the edge of town, her assistant, Barbara Bridges, said the banner was there, rolled up and stored in a closet.
The town issued an official statement saying that “Dahlonega is a welcoming community for people of diverse backgrounds” and that “recent episodes are not indicative of a change in our character or philosophy.”
The students called off the boycott and declared victory.
And now it was a sunny afternoon on the town square.
People were stopping by the candy shop, or wandering down the aisles of antique shops where Kenny G was playing through the speakers, or eating a sandwich across from the building where a KKK banner had been.
“Yeah, it’s the site of one of the last major gold rushes,” a man standing on the square said to a woman, explaining what he knew about Dahlonega.
“Do you have this in a large?” a woman asked at a T-shirt shop.
Reverend Webb, home this afternoon, said he was heartened to see how so many people had taken a stand. “Dahlonega is a sacred place for everybody,” he said.
At the same time, he said, the episode was not simply about the banner. To him, it was about a banner that had appeared after an election in which the new president had said certain things that had appealed to white nationalists and other hatemongers, whether he intended to or not, opening the door to events that could spiral out of control.
“The atmosphere he’s created in America today has caused people to think they have some kind of power again,” he said. “I thought that before, and I still do.”
Doles, who was out driving in his truck, said he agreed with this assessment. He had been on the way home from the gym when he first saw the banner and the flags, he said, and thought to himself, “It’s been a long time coming.” He said he had recently raised his own flag for the first time in years — the American one, because he finally feels pleased with the direction of the country.
“In the last 50 years, I didn’t think we had the votes to elect a governor, much less a president,” Doles said. “And yet here we are today.”
All of this was what worried Valerie Fambrough, sitting outside at a coffee shop on the pleasant afternoon. She felt good about all the people, including Trump supporters, who had come out to “proclaim a message of love.” She felt unsettled that some people thought she was part of an alt-left agenda. It all felt like the beginning of something, not the end.
“I’m just scared these days,” she said, even though the banner was no longer anywhere in sight.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Russian Espionage Piggybacks on a Cybercriminal’s Hacking
on: March 12, 2017, 12:23:19 PM
To the F.B.I., Evgeniy M. Bogachev is the most wanted cybercriminal in the world. The bureau has announced a $3 million bounty for his capture, the most ever for computer crimes, and has been attempting to track his movements in hopes of grabbing him if he strays outside his home turf in Russia.
He has been indicted in the United States, accused of creating a sprawling network of virus-infected computers to siphon hundreds of millions of dollars from bank accounts around the world, targeting anyone with enough money worth stealing — from a pest control company in North Carolina to a police department in Massachusetts to a Native American tribe in Washington.
In December, the Obama administration announced sanctions against Mr. Bogachev and five others in response to intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Russia had meddled in the presidential election. Publicly, law enforcement officials said it was his criminal exploits that landed Mr. Bogachev on the sanctions list, not any specific role in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
But it is clear that for Russia, he is more than just a criminal. At one point, Mr. Bogachev had control over as many as a million computers in multiple countries, with possible access to everything from family vacation photographs and term papers to business proposals and highly confidential personal information. It is almost certain that computers belonging to government officials and contractors in a number of countries were among the infected devices. For Russia’s surveillance-obsessed intelligence community, Mr. Bogachev’s exploits may have created an irresistible opportunity for espionage.
While Mr. Bogachev was draining bank accounts, it appears that the Russian authorities were looking over his shoulder, searching the same computers for files and emails. In effect, they were grafting an intelligence operation onto a far-reaching cybercriminal scheme, sparing themselves the hard work of hacking into the computers themselves, officials said.
The Russians were particularly interested, it seems, in information from military and intelligence services regarding fighting in eastern Ukraine and the war in Syria, according to law enforcement officials and the cybersecurity firm Fox-IT. But there also appear to have been attempts to gain access to sensitive military and intelligence information on infected computers in the United States, often consisting of searching for documents containing the words “top secret” or “Department of Defense.”
The Russian government has plenty of its own cyberspace tools for gathering intelligence. But the piggybacking on Mr. Bogachev’s activities offers some clues to the breadth and creativity of Russia’s espionage efforts at a time when the United States and Europe are scrambling to counter increasingly sophisticated attacks capable of destroying critical infrastructure, disrupting bank operations, stealing government secrets and undermining democratic elections.
This relationship is illustrated by the improbable mix of characters targeted with the sanctions announced by the Obama administration. Four were senior officers with Russia’s powerful military intelligence agency, the G.R.U. Two were suspected cyberthieves on the F.B.I.’s most wanted list: an ethnic Russian from Latvia named Alexsey Belan with a red-tinted Justin Bieber haircut, and Mr. Bogachev, whose F.B.I. file includes a photograph of him holding his spotted Bengal cat while wearing a matching set of leopard-print pajamas.
His involvement with Russian intelligence may help explain why Mr. Bogachev, 33, is hardly a man on the run. F.B.I. officials say he lives openly in Anapa, a run-down resort town on the Black Sea in southern Russia. He has a large apartment near the shore and possibly another in Moscow, officials say, as well as a collection of luxury cars, though he seems to favor driving his Jeep Grand Cherokee. American investigators say he enjoys sailing and owns a yacht.
Running the criminal scheme was hard work. Mr. Bogachev often complained of being exhausted and “of having too little time for his family,” said Aleksandr Panin, a Russian hacker, now in a federal prison in Kentucky for bank fraud, who used to communicate with Mr. Bogachev online. “He mentioned a wife and two kids as far as I remember,” Mr. Panin wrote in an email.
Beyond that, little is known about Mr. Bogachev, who preferred to operate anonymously behind various screen names: slavik, lucky12345, pollingsoon. Even close business associates never met him in person or knew his real name. “He was very, very paranoid,” said J. Keith Mularski, an F.B.I. supervisor in Pittsburgh whose investigation of Mr. Bogachev led to an indictment in 2014. “He didn’t trust anybody.”
Russia does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, and Russian officials say that so long as Mr. Bogachev has not committed a crime on Russian territory, there are no grounds to arrest him.
Attempts to reach Mr. Bogachev for this article were unsuccessful. In response to questions, his lawyer in Anapa, Aleksei Stotskii, said, “The fact that he is wanted by the F.B.I. prevents me morally from saying anything.”
A line in Mr. Bogachev’s file with the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, which has helped the F.B.I. track his movements, describes him as “working under the supervision of a special unit of the F.S.B.,” referring to the Federal Security Service, Russia’s main intelligence agency. The F.S.B. did not respond to request for comment.
That Mr. Bogachev remains at large “is the most powerful argument” that he is an asset of the Russian government, said Austin Berglas, who was an assistant special agent in charge of cyberinvestigations out of the F.B.I.’s New York field office until 2015. Hackers like Mr. Bogachev are “moonlighters,” Mr. Berglas said, “doing the bidding of Russian intelligence services, whether economic espionage or straight-up espionage.”
Such an arrangement offers the Kremlin a convenient cover story and an easy opportunity to take a peek into the extensive networks of computers infected by Russian hackers, security experts say. Russian intelligence agencies also appear to occasionally employ malware tools developed for criminal purposes, including the popular BlackEnergy, to attack the computers of enemy governments. The recent revelations by WikiLeaks about C.I.A. spying tools suggest that the agency also kept a large reference library of hacking kits, some of which appear to have been produced by Russia.
It also hints at a struggle to recruit top talent. A job with the Russian intelligence agencies does not command the prestige it did in the Soviet era. The Russian state has to compete against the dream of six-figure salaries and stock options in Silicon Valley. A recruiting pitch from a few years ago for the Defense Ministry’s cyberwarfare brigade offered college graduates the rank of lieutenant and a bed in a room with four other people.
And so the Kremlin at times turns to the “dark web” or Russian-language forums devoted to cyberfraud and spam. Mr. Bogachev, according to court papers from his criminal case, used to sell malicious software on a site called Carding World, where thieves buy and sell stolen credit card numbers and hacking kits, according to the F.B.I. One recent posting offered to sell American credit card information with CVV security numbers for $5. A user named MrRaiX was selling a malware supposedly designed to pilfer passwords from programs like Google Chrome and Outlook Express.
Rather than shut down such sites, as the F.B.I. typically tries to do, Russian intelligence agents appear to have infiltrated them, security experts say.
Some of the forums state specifically that almost any type of criminality is allowed — bank fraud, counterfeiting documents, weapons sales. One of the few rules: no work in Russia or the former Soviet Union. In Carding World, and in many other forums, a violation results in a lifetime ban.
The F.B.I. has long been stymied in its efforts to get Russian cybercriminals. For a time, the bureau had high hopes that its agents and Russian investigators with the F.S.B. would work together to target Russian thieves who had made a specialty of stealing Americans’ credit card information and breaking into their bank accounts. “Here’s to great investigations,” F.B.I. and F.S.B. agents would toast each other at Manhattan steakhouses during periodic trust-building visits, Mr. Berglas said.
But help rarely seemed to materialize. After awhile, agents began to worry that the Russian authorities were recruiting the very suspects that the F.B.I. was pursuing. The joke among Justice Department officials was the Russians were more likely to pin a medal on a suspected criminal hacker than help the F.B.I. nab him.
“Almost all the hackers who have been announced by the U.S. government through indictments are immediately tracked by the Russian government,” said Arkady Bukh, a New York-based lawyer who often represents Russian hackers arrested in the United States. “All the time they’re asked to provide logistical and technical support.”
While it was a widely held suspicion, it is tough to prove the connection between cyberthieves and Russian intelligence. But in one case, Mr. Berglas said, F.B.I. agents monitoring an infected computer were surprised to see a hacker who was the target of their investigation share a copy of his passport with a person the F.B.I. believed to be a Russian intelligence agent — a likely signal that the suspect was being recruited or protected. “That was the closest we ever came,” he said.
Fishing for Top Secrets
Mr. Bogachev’s hacking career began well over a decade ago, leading to the creation of a malicious software program called GameOver ZeuS that he managed with the help of about a half-dozen close associates who called themselves the Business Club, according to the F.B.I. and security researchers. Working around the clock, his criminal gang infected an ever growing network of computers. They were able to bypass the most advanced banking security measures to quickly empty accounts and transfer the money abroad through a web of intermediaries called money mules. F.B.I. officials said it was the most sophisticated online larceny scheme they had encountered — and for years, it was impenetrable.
Mr. Bogachev became extremely wealthy. At one point, he owned two villas in France and kept a fleet of cars parked around Europe so he would never have to rent a vehicle while on vacation, according to a Ukrainian law enforcement official with knowledge of the Bogachev case, who requested anonymity to discuss the continuing investigation. Officials say he had three Russian passports with different aliases allowing him to travel undercover.
At the height of his operations, Mr. Bogachev had between 500,000 and a million computers under his control, American officials said. And there is evidence that the Russian government took an interest in knowing what was on them.
Beginning around 2011, according to an analysis by Fox-IT, computers under Mr. Bogachev’s control started receiving requests for information — not about banking transactions, but for files relating to various geopolitical developments pulled from the headlines.
Around the time that former President Barack Obama publicly agreed to start sending small arms and ammunition to Syrian rebels, in 2013, Turkish computers infected by Mr. Bogachev’s network were hit with keyword searches that included the terms “weapon delivery” and “arms delivery.” There were also searches for “Russian mercenary” and “Caucasian mercenary,” suggesting concerns about Russian citizens fighting in the war.
Ahead of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in 2014, infected computers were searched for information about top-secret files from the country’s main intelligence directorate, the S.B.U. Some of the queries involved searches for personal information about government security officials, including emails from Georgia’s foreign intelligence service, the Turkish Foreign Ministry and others, said Michael Sandee, one of the researchers from Fox-IT.
And at some point between March 2013 and February 2014, there were searches for English-language documents, which seemed to be fishing for American military and intelligence documents. The queries were for terms including “top secret” and “Department of Defense,” said Brett Stone-Gross, a cybersecurity analyst involved in analyzing GameOver ZeuS. “These were in English,” he said. “That was different.”
Cybersecurity experts who studied the case say there is no way to know who ordered the queries. But they were so disconnected from the larceny and fraud that drove Mr. Bogachev’s operation that analysts say there can be no other motive but espionage.
Whether the searches turned up any classified document or sensitive government material is unknown, although the odds are likely that there were a number of federal government employees or defense contractors with infected personal computers. “They had such a large number of infections, I would say it’s highly likely they had computers belonging to U.S. government and foreign government employees,” Mr. Stone-Gross said.
In the summer of 2014, the F.B.I., together with law enforcement agencies in over half a dozen countries, carried out Operation Tovar, a coordinated attack on Mr. Bogachev’s criminal infrastructure that successfully shut down his network and liberated computers infected with GameOver ZeuS.
Prosecutors said they were in talks with the Russian government, trying to secure cooperation for the capture of Mr. Bogachev. But the only apparent legal trouble Mr. Bogachev has faced in Russia was a lawsuit filed against him by a real estate company in 2011 over payment of about $75,000 on his apartment in Anapa, according to court papers there. And even that he managed to beat.
These days, officials believe Mr. Bogachev is living under his own name in Anapa and occasionally takes boat trips to Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that Russia occupied in 2014. Mr. Mularski, the F.B.I. supervisor, said his agents were “still pursuing leads.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Big Start Up Opportunity? 2.0
on: March 11, 2017, 11:20:12 AM
Intriguing, but IMHO with loaded with the dangers of mob rule.
How Trump and Bannon Could Restructure US Politics Overnight
Posted: 10 Mar 2017 03:57 PM PST
We live in a world where we can get nearly everything instantly.
Instant information. Instant entertainment. Instant communications. Instant transactions.
Simply and rightly, we have come to expect our decisions to yield instant results from the systems that serve us.
Well, that's true for every system except our political system.
We're only allowed to interact with our political system, in a meaningful way, only once every two years and only then by filling out a multiple choice quiz in an election booth.
That's akin to an Internet that only available for a couple of hours every two years at 1,200 baud.
It's crazy in this day and age. Worse, there's increasing evidence it is driving us crazy. We are filling the time in between these electoral events with around the clock political warfare. A ceaseless drumbeat of outrage and conspiracy, amplified by the online echo chambers we spend our time in.
Fortunately, I don't believe this disconnect will last long. A form of direct democracy is coming. One that lets people directly influence the decisions of the people they send to Washington.
A form of interactive democracy that doesn't require any changes to the constitution since it works at the party level and not the national.
When it does, it's going to hit us fast, taking off like wildfire since it fulfills a fundamental need that the current system does not provide.
Here's a quick example from the perspective of the Trump insurgency. Other political parties would need different approaches, but they could if done in the right way (simple approach, scaled quickly by using disruptive marketing, grow from there), grow as quickly as this.
Launching the populist app:
Trump or Bannon picks an issue: the narrower and more inflammatory (disruptive marketing) the better. Make the vote a yes or no.
Trump asks his supporters to tell him what they want (he doesn't ask those opposing him).
His supporters download the app to their smart phones and vote.
A little programming and marketing magic radically improves the number of Trump supporters using the app and reduces spammers/non-supporters attempting to skew the vote down to a trickle.
Millions of Trump supporters download the app and vote.
Once the decision is in, the app makes it easy to call or spam message to the user's Congressional representatives. Millions of calls roll in.
A bill that codifies that issue is fast tracked in Congress. Massive pressure via the app and the White House gets it passed quickly.
Connecting action and results quickly generates buzz. Repeat. This time with 10 m downloads.
The app evolves. The pressure from the network increases. It consumes the Republican party.
Notice how the system, in a barebones fashion, could become a staple of governance nearly overnight.
Notice too how this doesn't in any way change the system of governance that is already in place. It's a plug and play upgrade (for many and something deeply scary downgrade to many).
Regardless, networked politics is coming. It won't matter if you like it or not. It's inevitable.
How networked politics evolves from this humble beginning is the tricky part.
Get it wrong and we're making the same mistakes we did with the governance of the nation-state prior to WW2 or in replacing feudal with representative governments -- it could end in horrific violence.
Get it right and we could zoom forward economically, socially, and culturally.
PS: This example is barebones. I've left out most of the nuance. If you want that, you will need to hire me to help you design and build it. I'm an idealist, but I'm also a mercenary capitalist.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Palestinian Gun Makers
on: March 10, 2017, 04:57:28 PM
Israel Targets Palestinian Gun Makers
by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
March 10, 2017http://www.investigativeproject.org/5847/israel-targets-palestinian-gun-makers
At first glance, the bridal gown shop in the Palestinian city of Nablus appeared innocuous. But behind the scenes, Israeli intelligence says, the store served as a front for a major West Bank gun parts distribution center.
"Components for weapons were continuously being sold out of there," a senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) source told The Investigative Project on Terrorism. The store turned out to be part of a wide network of weapons dealers who had imported their lethal goods by ordering them on the internet, the IDF stated this week. Nine suspects, including the store owner, are in custody, and additional members of the weapons trafficking ring remain at large. "They came from all walks of life and from varied layers of Palestinian society," the source stated.
Since mid-2016, the IDF has been engaged in an intensive, large-scale campaign to seize as many firearms circulating in the West Bank as possible to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists. A growing number of such firearms have been used in deadly attacks, such as the Sarona Market shooting in Tel Aviv last June in which two Palestinian gunmen murdered four people in a restaurant. The gunmen used locally produced automatic rifles, dubbed 'Carlos' due to their resemblance to the Carl Gustav Swedish sub-machine gun.
While the latest wave of arrests focused on traders who used the internet to import gun parts, most of those on the IDF's target list manufacture and assemble guns in local workshops. Seven such workshops have been shut down since the start of 2017, and 84 guns have been seized by Israeli security forces, according to figures made available by the IDF.
"The terrorist threat picture has changed. In the past, the main threat was posed by organized, institutional organizations," the senior security source said. "For the most part, these were hierarchical terror cells, with a clear division of labor. There was someone responsible for financing, someone else had the designated job of transporting the suicide bomber or gunman, etc. This threat still exists. Hamas is trying to organize such cells all of the time. But the main challenge these days comes from terrorists that we do not have prior knowledge about."
Lone attackers, or small, localized cells with no organizational affiliation or background of security offenses, are far harder for intelligence services to detect, and these are just the type of terrorists who are likely to use firearms available in their surroundings. These types of attackers, some of whom have suicidal tendencies or personal crises, according to the source, often will attempt simple attacks, using whatever is at their disposal. This can take the form of knife or vehicle attacks, or picking up locally available weapons.
Guns in the West Bank can be purchased by Palestinians for many reasons; whether for personal protection, to defend families and clans, to fire at wedding celebrations, or to reinforce one's sense of ego. As long as the guns are cheap and affordable, the source warned, "anyone can get [them]. Many of the shootings cells we captured in the West Bank were armed with these types of weapons."
A year ago, a locally produced Carlo rifle cost around 2,300 shekels in the West Bank, meaning that Palestinians could purchase it with a single month's salary, or take the money from family members, before moving ahead with an attack.
"The Sarona Market gunmen had no outside financial support, but still managed to get their hands on their firearms. The suits they wore [to disguise their identities] cost more than their guns," the source said.
"This is why we are in the midst of an intensive campaign targeting the manufacturing and trade of weapons and gun parts. Even if I can't get rid of the illegal weapons phenomenon, I can make them less accessible, and much harder to traffic in them."
The increased Israeli pressure makes it more difficult to obtain guns, and increases the odds of catching people before they can attack. They have to leave
their village or neighborhood and move around with the firearms where they can be caught and intercepted by the IDF. "People will fear more getting caught and moving around with these firearms," the source said.
The Palestinian Authority would also like to see these guns taken off the streets, the source said, since it encourages lawlessness and anarchy in some areas that pose challenges to its rule.
Nablus, Balata Camp (next to Nablus), and Hebron are gun manufacturing focal points, according to IDF assessments. In addition, areas like Ramallah, Kalandia, and Palestinian neighborhoods on the outskirts of Jerusalem have workshops that take air or toy guns and convert them into real firearms using stolen components.
Thefts from IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians, as well as trade with Israeli weapons traffickers who do not care where the guns end up provide other sources of terrorist arms.
Efforts by security forces to stem the tide were beginning to pay dividends, the source said. Today, a Carlo gun costs more than 6,000 shekels, as numbers dwindle.
"With time, we are seeing improvements," he said. "We are seizing more than we did in the past, and our intelligence techniques have improved, so that we can capture guns not only in homes, but also in the manufacturing locations, and when they are moved around. This is a campaign. No single incident will stamp out the problem. So long as the profit from this trade is big enough compared to the fear of arrest or facing raids, many Palestinians will continue to be active in it. "
Ultimately, he said, "over time, we will seek to decrease the number of guns and keep raising the price. This will result in less terrorists getting their hands on them, and resorting to less lethal attack forms, such as knife attacks. Our soldiers' alertness [to knife attacks] means such attacks produce less casualties - meaning that our effort will boost security."
Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane's Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Big Start Up Opportunity?
on: March 10, 2017, 10:46:16 AM
A BIG Start-up Opportunity in Politics?
Posted: 09 Mar 2017 12:09 PM PST
The New York Times pointed out yesterday that Trump ran his candidacy like an Internet start-up. His goal was to use Internet technology to disintermediate the established system (parties, media, etc.) of getting a President elected. Bannon even brought into the team start-up culture mantras:
"move fast and break things"
“figure out what needs doing, and then just do it. Don’t wait for permission.”
I agree and I've been saying something similar for a year. However, I have one important caveat. Unlike wildly successful Internet start-ups, Trump didn't build a technological platform. Instead, he ran an open source political insurgency using social networking. While open source insurgencies are extremely powerful (they have toppled governments and fought wars), they are very difficult to govern with. For example, open source insurgencies dissolve into infighting without an active enemy to fight. Trump's work around for this has been labelling the media as the opposition party and generating controversy.
Because Trump's start-up didn't build any technology, he doesn't have a cohesive social network to synergistically unite his political supporters. A synergy that could turn it into a dominant political force. It's still operating in open source insurgency mode (something Steve Bannon understands in his bones).
This means there is still a massive opportunity available.
An opportunity to build the first political social network that replaces a traditional party apparatus.
One that operates completely different than any political party we've had in this country.
A political platform that provides direct participation (think apps) in the political process on a daily or hourly basis rather than once every two years.
A platform that could grow to 60 m active participants in less than two years.
A platform that establishes norms of conduct and expectations of the future rather than rips them down.
A political network that allows us, as a country, to aspire to greatness again.
PS: This window of opportunity will close fast. Anyone could launch the moonshot to get this done and before it even comes out of stealth alpha, the competition could be over.
PPS: This is likely to be a phase transition in our political system. This means that any errors at the start are amplified manyfold downstream (think in terms of assumptions built into the US Constitution haunted us later in our history).